Online dashboard solutions have grown in popularity over the past five years as simple, cost effective way to deliver automated dashboards. This type of solution is designed to allow marketers to connect directly to various types of common systems such as Facebook and Google Analytics and display these sources side-by-side in a visually appealing dashboard.
On the surface, these tools look like mana from heaven, as it helps to solve one of marketing’s biggest problem which is data gathering. And while this is true, there are two primary issues with this approach:
- Very limited in their ability to tell any meaningful performance story beyond big numbers and trend charts.
- Because these solutions simply connect to source systems, they will display all data – clean and dirty.
- These tools are simply not able to contain all sources that are usually present within a marketing strategy such as offline media, internal systems, and digital marketing and ad serving systems that are utilized virtually everywhere.
Not all is lost with these types of systems, however. I believe they do provide value in the following types of situations:
- The TV in the lobby. These systems are great to create awareness for what marketing is doing because they are web enabled, have big numbers and often have real-time capabilities that makes stuff move.
- For that client who is always asking how many website visits do we have, fans, and tweets – give them a dashboard so they can watch it move themselves.
- Small businesses that are beginning to experiment with online marketing can see results fairly easy as they tend to use widely use systems such as Facebook and Google Analytics.
There’s no question, online dashboard tools can provide a great dashboard fit for the office lobby but it’s far from an ideal solution. If you’re using this method, it’s definitely better than a PowerPoint solution, but you’ll never tap into the full potential and insights of what your data is trying to tell you. The ideal solution is a robust data visualization tool combined with a data aggregation platform underneath to systematically update, aggregate and clean your underlying data, so you can build not just beautiful but insightful dashboards that tell a clear holistic performance story.